Dealing With Extreme Heat
Between April and May 2022, almost 350 million Indians were subjected to severe heat stress. Summer temperatures rose by 0.5-0.9°C on average across districts in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Rajasthan between 1990 and 2019; winter temperatures rose by a comparable amount in 54% of India’s districts. Maximum temperatures are anticipated to climb by 2-3.5°C in 100 districts and by 1.5- 2°C in approximately 455 districts between 2021 and 2050.
Points to Ponder:
- The article covers how rising temperatures and weather variability are affecting India.
- Between April and May 2022, almost 350 million Indians were subjected to severe heat stress.
- Summer temperatures in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Rajasthan increased by 0.5-0.9°C on average between 1990 and 2019.
- Winter temperatures have risen similarly in 54% of India’s districts.
- The maximum temperature is anticipated to climb by 2-3.5°C in 100 districts and by 1.5- 2°C in approximately 455 districts between 2021 and 2050.
- Winter temperatures will rise by 1°C to 1.5°C in approximately 485 districts.
- Weather unpredictability has effects, particularly in agriculture, with recent weather variability ruining the bulk of Rajasthan’s cumin crop.
- Rising temperatures have also made cities more unlivable, with heat exposure causing laborers undertaking heavy work to lose productivity.
- Greening could help alleviate some of the problems by increasing the density and size of urban forests and recovering wetlands and dead ponds/lakes.
- To lessen the urban heat island effect, more permeable materials should be used, natural landscapes in metropolitan areas should be enhanced, and urban building standards should be raised.
- Chandigarh is an example of climate-responsive urban architecture that can be replicated in other Indian cities.
- Other options include using public transportation, minimizing personal car usage, reducing landfill size, trash segregation, and solid waste management.
- It is necessary to improve forecasting capability, including the possible impact of heat on food production, as well as to develop policies and guidelines on weather variability and urban heat management at the state, district, city, and municipality ward levels.
- Greening: Increase the permeable urban surface area and push for greater density and size of urban woods. Expanding wetlands and rehabilitating dead and decaying ponds/lakes may contribute to ecological functioning while reducing urban heat.
- Urban design: Promote the use of permeable materials in municipal infrastructure and residential buildings, as well as natural ventilation solutions such as brick jalis and terracotta tiles. Improve city building codes to avoid using heat-absorbing galvanized iron and metal roof sheets. Expand streets with limited ventilation and increase natural vegetation.
- Take advantage of public transit to limit personal vehicle usage and the extent of landfills.
- Waste management: Advocate for waste segregation and solid waste management at the source to decrease methane emissions from mountainous landfills, which can cause fires, worsening urban heat, and weather variability.
- Improve our forecasting abilities, especially the potential impact of heat on food output. Add local heat trends to current food inflation econometric models to help cope with the influence of heat on food production, storage, and sale.
- Policy guidelines: At the state, district, city, and municipality ward levels, develop thorough policies and guidelines on weather variability and urban heat management.
- Taking these steps early on, as well as putting in place basic infrastructure, can help Indians adapt to the worsening hot conditions caused by climate change.